AUTHOR: Glenn Land (edited and vetted by Cheri Todd Molter)
Eliza Ann Triplet of Caldwell County, North Carolina, was married to a 3-times-removed-2nd-cousin of mine, William Taylor Land, the only son of Wilson Land and Rebecca Miller Land. While it seems most of my Land ancestors of Caldwell, Alexander, and Wilkes Counties were Confederate supporters, William’s views were more complex. Although he served in the Confederate Army, he apparently maintained ties and loyalty to the old Union, as did his future bride, Eliza. Eliza Ann Triplet was the daughter of Russell & Elizabeth Hendricks Triplet [also spelled Triplett in some records] and was born in October 1844.
People in the mountain counties of western North Carolina, much like those of neighboring East Tennessee, held a good deal of Union sentiment. Young Eliza was apparently an outspoken supporter of the Union during the Civil War, despite having three older brothers in the Confederate Army. Eliza’s strong Union sentiment was noted by author Barton A. Myers in his book, Rebels Against the Confederacy: North Carolina’s Unionists. Myers states that Eliza was reported by witnesses as claiming that, if she were a man, she would join the U.S. Army and “put South Carolina in its proper place” or “lay in the mountains ‘til she got as mossy as an old log before she would fight in the Rebel service.” As if to prove her loyalty, she married William Taylor Land following the war.
According to his compiled military record, eighteen-year-old William Land was mustered into Company B, 37th N.C. Infantry on Oct. 27, 1864 and served alongside Eliza’s brother, Lorenzo. By 1864, Eliza’s other brother, James, had already died while fighting for the Confederacy: He had also served in Company B, 37th N.C. Infantry and had died of disease on Dec. 9, 1861. A third brother, George Triplet, had been discharged from that same regiment due to disability on Feb. 17, 1863. To make researching the Triplet and Land families even more complicated, Eliza’s brothers, George and James Triplet, had married William’s sisters, Mary and Martha Land, before the war, so the two families were united multiple times.
William Land was promoted to Corporal on Feb. 1, 1865. According to his military record, he deserted on March 8, 1865 and, a couple of days later, was confined at Washington, D.C. where he took the Oath of Allegiance. Incidentally, shortly after William deserted, on April 5, 1865, Lorenzo Triplet was wounded and captured at Amelia Court House, Virginia. Lorenzo was imprisoned at Point Lookout in Maryland and released after taking the Oath of Allegiance on June 21st. Meanwhile, after William left D.C. in March, he evidently joined the Union Army. On April 11, 1865, William joined Company H of the 7th Illinois Cavalry. He served until Sept 15, 1865. In later years, William drew a Federal pension for his six months of service.
According to Census records, William and Eliza were married sometime in 1867, and for several years they lived among their former-Confederate neighbors, including their extended family. In December 1878, Eliza Ann Triplet Land of Caldwell County filed a claim with the Federal Government for reimbursement for the horse, saddle, and bridle that had been confiscated from her by Stoneman’s Cavalry during their raid in western North Carolina in March-April 1865. Eliza’s witnesses included her father, Russell Triplet, her youngest brother, Calvin L. Triplet, and James Dula (pronounced locally as “Dooley”). In Eliza’s petition, she stated plainly that she and William were not married until after the war and that the horse, saddle, and bridle were solely her property. She also stated that she was never a member of any “sewing society,” which were often organized to make clothes for Confederate soldiers during the war. Eliza also stated, “I never assisted in making any flags or any other military equipment or anything of the kind.” She explained that in 1864 her father gave her a 7-year-old mare, which she traded for the sorrel mare that had been confiscated by the Yankee Cavalry. According to her testimony, she encountered the Union troops on the “big road” going through Caldwell County, and they ordered her off the mare and to give up the saddle and bridle. They simply informed her that they were part of General Stoneman’s command. Eliza claimed $125.00 for the mare, $12.00 for a “new citizen saddle,” and $2.00 for the bridle. In March 1879, she was paid $120.00. (See photograph below; click on image to enlarge.)
William was counted in Caldwell County in the 1890 census of Union Veterans. The 1900 Census, however, found William and Eliza in Paper Mills, Arapahoe County, Colorado—about as far from their North Carolina mountains as they could get. Colorado remained home for them until their passing: William died in 1921, and Eliza died in 1934.